Hermit Crab

© Johan Boshoff

Common family name

Hermit crabs

Scientific name



Hermit crabs vary greatly in size and can measure from 1 cm to 20 cm in length.


Hermit crabs have five pairs of legs, the first pair normally being claws. It has a soft abdomen into which its entire body can retract. Some camouflage their shells by using sponges or anemones. Hermit crabs vary greatly in colour from brown to red, orange, white, blue and black, and some are marked with stripes and spots on their legs.

General Info

Hermit crabs belong to the Paguroidea super-family which comprises of six families and 68 genera, and is a part of the crustaceans. These creatures retreat entirely into their shells when disturbed, and their name derives from their habit of occupying secondhand shells. They have a very long lifespan and live on land, in freshwater and in the ocean. They are pelagic spawners.


The hermit crab feeds on worms, plankton, algae and organic debris.


They can be found in all temperate and tropical oceans across the world.

Common Species

Anemone hermit crab - Dardanus pedunculatus
Stareye hermit crab - Dardanus venosus
Wolf hermit crab - Aniculus maximus

© Johan Boshoff